Word of the Day

It’s Schadenfreude. My own spin on the definition: the bitter joy one takes in the suffering of others.

I loved Obama’s take on the Palin misfortune: back off and let the family take care of its misfortune in private. Of course, the world little noted his injunction, let alone remembered it, and the hits just keep on coming. Governor Palin’s embarrassing moment with her daughter’s pregnancy–and hey, it’s Senator McCain’s moment, too–is really the least of her, or his, problems. She’s just a Christmas stocking full of early holiday surprises. See TPM Election Central for a handy list of the pies that hit her (and Team McCain) in the face over the last couple of days. My particular favorite, though it’s of no particular importance, is her giggling on a radio talk show while the host-lout calls one of her opponents “a bitch.” Who knew Christian zealots could be such fun?

Anyway, as Labor Day drew into Labor Day night, I recognized the guilty truth that it’s kind of fun to see a Republican candidate driven from pillar to post over some of the same kinds of issues–including a matter that is arguably private–for which Democrats have been harried for years by the self-anointed saints of the right.

Enjoy your time in the spotlight, governor. If the tide keeps running this way, you just bought yourself a ticket back to Juneau.

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Game Token

Venturing into deep waters, but here goes: I think it’s safe to say that with Sarah Palin on the ticket, Team McCain has all but sewn up the battle for Alaska’s three electoral votes.

Palin’s sudden elevation from obscure environmental menace to No. 2 on the ticket is the most surprising rise to national prominence since Bush II named Harriet Myers to the Supreme Court. It’s reminiscent, too, of the cynicism that led Bush I to nominate Clarence Thomas to the court.

In the Myers case, the choice met with derision: Mr. President, you’re asking us to believe you have searched our great land high and low and that this is the best candidate for our most august tribunal? Of course, under this president, the notion that competence is a prerequisite, or even desirable, for high office has taken a beating. But in the Myers case, the howls were so loud and insistent from all quarters that the president was forced to let his friend withdraw herself from consideration for the court.

McCain’s choice of Palin provokes the Myers reaction all over again. Senator McCain, you’ve combed the ranks of GOP officeholders everywhere–and even a non-GOP one in the repugnant person of Joe Lieberman–and this is the person you want us to believe is the best-qualified to vault into high office?

OK–if you say so.

As even the dimmest pundit can see and as Palin herself made clear in her debut, she’s on the ticket as a magnet for the legions of Hillary Clinton voters so crushed by Obama winning the Democratic nomination that they’re going to vote for McCain. For them, Palin would clinch the deal. Or maybe McCain and his brain trust believe that everyone who voted for Clinton voted for her because she was a woman. Run out a new body in a pantsuit, put some of the same rhetoric on stage, and see whether anyone notices the difference.

We’ll see how that works, I guess. Meantime, from the Republicans, the party that has fought affirmative action at every turn, arguing that it begets tokenism and promotes the unqualified over the qualified, we get another bizarre episode of tokenism to ponder. When civil rights pioneer Thurgood Marshall died, they found a black man bent on reversing his legacy to take his seat on the Supreme Court. When Sandra Day O’Connor retired from the court, they suggested a woman without a scintilla of judicial experience or preparation to replace her. And now, to appeal to the partisans of Clinton–as steadfast an opponent of the GOP right as any Democrat–they put up a right-wing Republican.